Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold January

It is below zero this morning
we are dead smack in the middle of January
Janus is standing in my doorway
and arctic cold slides in
testing my toes
finding the cracks in my armor
exposing the inevitable vulnerability

The birds arrive at first light
and refuel
eating seed and suet with gusto
driving away the deep chill
of nights on maple perches
nothing moves them then
as they slip into metabolic slumbers
not even the sudden shot and shudder
of frozen sap will snap them awake
they need to be that still
that simple
to survive

Yet now with the dawn
they flurry to the feeder
and fill their bills
joyfully refueling
building the grams of fat
necessary to make it through
the next cold January night
such are their lives
such is our plight

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Asked the Sun

As darkness shut
Its eyes on me
I asked the sun
Come back
Once more
To touch my skin
To warm my bones
To streak and skid
Across my floor.
I am no longer fearful
I only long
For what I know
And choose to wish away
The tease
And taunt
Of this
A dimly lit
Cold winter's day.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Know I Know

I woke with a start.
It was the black of night
And there was a mouse
Chasing a macadamia nut
Across the wooden floor.
Odd how odd sounds will wake me:
The plow truck scraping the road---still asleep
The radiator clanging with heat---still asleep
A mouse chasing a mac-nut---wide awake.
I call them mac-nuts now
Because the guy at the camp ground did.
He gave them to me as a gift.
We had spoken earlier that day,
My brother had given him some apple-bananas…
The mac-nut guy had been trying
and trying and trying
To light a fire
To cook some oatmeal.
He politely refused our help
And struggled:
Lacking fuel
lacking oxygen
lacking heat?
And finally he had ignition,
He certainly had patience.
He cooked his food
and fed his son
who was proud that his dad
had just bought a quarter acre of land
lava field in Hawaii.
So the mac-nut man shared a small bag
Of the round nuts with brown shells
Raw, and good that way.
I stuck a few in my suitcase
and brought them home,
hoping that the ag-inspection wouldn't be a hassle.
I set them aside,
but the mouse found them.
A small mouse
Trying to get a grasp on a nut
Too big to bite.
And so it rolled and rattled me
Out of my nest.
I did not see the mouse at first
just three random mac-nuts
Rolled out on the floor,
but when I lifted the sleeping bag
off the floor
a tiny blur of grey scurried off
and under my bed.


I set the middle-of-the-night-traps:
One that catches-by-the-neck
One that has a one-way tunnel
A no-kill catcher.
I don't like to kill mice
But I can't sleep with them under my bed.
It would only be a matter of time before they were pooping
In my silverware drawer.
I bought the no-kill trap
To assuage my conscience,
But what would I do with a live mouse?
Let it go outside in the January cold?
I wished the mouse away,
Sometimes that works,
I wished that he might find his own solution
But that implies that he has a problem
Doesn't it?
So I grabbed the sleeping bag
And headed for the couch,
Downstairs and a long mouse journey away.
It is comfortable couch
but not sleep comfortable.
So as I tossed
I listened to the radio.
Someone was reading E. B. White
Something about New York City
Where my son just moved
Somewhere near Little Italy
And I thought
I remembered, somehow
to find the piece
and send it...
He is an intelligent guy
And it might serve him, someway.
I remembered in the morning:
Night and sleep being something of an eraser.


I wondered how I knew some things,
While other things I have learned-experienced
Well, drift-off.
They seem to disappear
Like cream stirred into coffee
I know it’s in there
But could I get it back
If I wanted,
Could it be cream again?
There are many things I know:
Like how to plant peas
Or change a tire
Or a verse from a poem
Or a phone number.
But there must be a million
Things I might still know
If I could get them back…
It seems that
that only happens
In fortunate moments
Drifts of memory
Loose connections
Suddenly drawn tighter
I don’t know these old friends,
Until they spark and return
And remind me,
In some secret ceremony,
That there are things
I know I know.